Tangentially, it would be very interesting to get some first-hand accounts of the struggle to open up the Ivies to GI-bill'ers. Because, let's face it, inclusivity was not (and some would argue still is not) one of their traits.
Interesting point. An article by reporter Benjamin Fine in the New York Times dated July 22, 1956 comes close to addressing the above issue. I have quoted excerpts from the article at the end of this post for anyone who may be interested. Warning: The article says nothing about clothes.
But aside from the veterans who were at the Ivy League in the 1940s and '50s, I would like to see first-hand stories about any of the tensions that existed at elite schools between (a) the wealthy sons of America's aristocracy and (b) the smart but financially strapped kids attending those schools thanks to scholarships, loans, and/or work-study programs. In the 1950s, roughly a third of the undergraduates in the Ivy League were receiving some form of financial assistance--and I don't mean the kind that comes from Daddy's investment portfolio.
Here's a notice that was published in The Daily Princetonian on January 17, 1952:
"Student Aid Men Register
"Today is the last day for all men registered with the Bureau of Student Aid to register their earnings. Registration must be made between 10 and noon or between 1 and 5 today. Financial aid renewal next term depends on this registration."
Imagine getting to Princeton and finding out that you've been slapped with the label "Student Aid Man." Wonderful.
Suppose a Student Aid Man and a Trust Fund Baby are sitting next to each other in their Comparative Literature class in 1952. How will they get along? I don't know. What's likely is that 30 years later, when Student Aid Man sells his company for $300,000,000, he and Trust Fund Baby will grab drinks at the country club and talk about old times on campus--such as all the times that Student Aid Man helped Trust Fund Baby write term papers.
Here are excerpts from Benjamin Fine's 1956 story about how the initial phase of the GI Bill worked out:
"In twelve years, nearly 8,000,000 ex-servicemen attended school and college, took on/the-job training or worked on farms....
"Educators began last week to take stock of this great educational venture. At one time college campuses were swamped with veterans....
"There were misgivings at first. But the educators soon found that the veterans were characterized by maturity and strong motivation. The veterans were substantially older than their civilian classmates. And they wanted to make up for lost time.
"Perhaps the situation at Yale University is typical of the institutions that found their campuses overcrowded with ex-servicemen. Some 15,000 veterans attended Yale in the [past] 12 years. A maximum of 5,900 were enrolled during the spring term of 1947. Yale found that scholastically the vets did better work than the other students. But...the University benefited also from the rise in standards achieved by the veterans.
"The Columbia University campus probably had the largest number of G. I.'s of any institution. Some 85,000 veterans have attended Columbia since the program began. The peak year was reached in 1947, when 17,733 ex-servicemen were enrolled, comprising 74 per cent of the male student body.
"Contrary to expectations, few veterans gave up before completing their educational objectives. The ease and completeness with which the ex-G. I.'s fitted into the academic environment proved heartening.
"'Veterans...have brought to our campuses an atmosphere of serious purpose and a sense of responsibility' [said one official].
"There is little doubt that the veterans brought a sense of maturity previously unknown to college campuses. Dr. Herold C. Hunt, Undersecretary of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare and former...Harvard University professor [said] 'Having shared the experience and responsibility of winning World War II, many veterans came to college with a deeper sense of values than those who came directly from high schools. Their seriousness brought good scholarship and a high level of achievement...."
"Many institutions created veterans' divisions. Brown University set up a separate college for ex-servicemen in the fall of 1946 for men whose academic background was not up to those of the regular students....College gave them this chance to show that acquired maturity and greater incentive to learn could offset any deficiencies of previous training....They made good. Most of them were able to transfer successfully to the college proper.
"Now the Korean veterans, 350,000 strong, are on the nation's campuses and in the classrooms...[and] they are being made welcome by educators impressed with the success of the World War II veterans."